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Six Ways Your Day Job Is Killing You

by Chris Poindexter

One constant surprise in the modern world is how few young people feel the entrepreneurial drive to start their own business. In study after study and one on one conversations, people under 30 overwhelmingly prefer a day job to the grind of trying to scratch out a living on their own. The reasons young people prefer the corporate life may be related to the lifelong insecurities instilled by spending their formative years growing up in one of the worst recessions in modern history. Many entering the workforce today watched their parents deal with layoffs, financial distress and sometimes foreclosure. Those type of events have left a lasting impression with an entire generation.

Like every other decision in your financial life, the one to limit yourself to a day job working for someone else comes with its own set of burdens and downsides. Only one in five workers feel like his or her employer values them. Employees who feel committed and engaged with their work hovers at a dismal 29% of the workforce. As technology advances, day jobs are becoming a source of stress and are cutting into family relationships. Take people who are short on sleep, put them through a stressful commute fueled by traffic and caffeine and then drop them in a job they hate at a company that doesn’t value them, then repeat the whole cycle eight hours later on the trip home and it’s toxic brew of anger, stress and unhappiness.

Six key elements account for the majority of the stress people feel at work. Deal with these to make a day job more tolerable.

Off-Hour Contacts

An overwhelming 89% of people feel their work life intrudes too much on personal time. Anyone who has ever caught themselves answering work email at the dinner table or missing a family event because of their job ranks this as the number one stress point in their career.

Bad Bosses

Coming in a close second, bad bosses top the list of things that make day jobs an unfulfilling drudge with 69% of people identifying their boss as the problem. Factors that make up a bad boss include an abrasive communication style, lack of planning, poor decision-making skills and garden variety arrogance. The irony is that the overwhelming majority of supervisors rank themselves as either good or excellent. One company that has a reputation for beating the odds when it comes to supervisory personnel is Costco, where managers consistently top worker satisfaction polls.

A Stressful Commute

That house in the suburbs may be tempting but the longer your daily commute, the less happy you’ll be at work. Most people would be better off renting near their job than buying in a far off suburb. Of all the factors that make a job unpleasant, this is the one over which you have the most control. A full third of people rank their commute as the number one source of stress in their day.

Inflexible Work Schedules

Roughly 40% of workers report missing a significant family event because of work and many cite inflexible work schedules as a constant source of stress. A clear majority of people would consider taking less money in exchange for greater flexibility in setting their schedule and it is a clear factor when employees are considering job offers from rivals.

Incompetent Coworkers

It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re stuck in a flock of turkeys but that’s how just under 30% of people feel at work. Coworkers come in at the number four spot behind bad bosses, bad schedules and long commutes.

Working Longer Hours

Along with bad bosses nearly half of people working day reporting being regularly asked to work beyond standard working hours. This petty insult gripes workers far beyond the minor amount of time involved and is one of the key factors when it comes to undermining employee morale. If you don’t value your people’s time, they will never value your company’s time.

Many times a stressful day job can be mitigated by addressing the issues that make it unpleasant. In making it better for yourself, you may also be helping your coworkers. If not, you can take heart that the economy is still in great shape and there are plenty of good jobs out there.

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